“How can oysters improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay?”: Maisie Strawn ‘17 Presents iQuest

“How can oysters improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay?”: Maisie Strawn ‘17 Presents iQuest

— by Chatham Hall  | 

On February 28, Maisie Strawn ‘17 presented her research findings from the iQuest she has pursued over the past year. Her essential question, "How can the sustainable farming of oysters improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay, and how can these farming practices be best spread to the general public of the Chesapeake Bay region to promote the establishment of small privately owned farms?" guided her in learning about sustainable oyster farming, and even led to her growing her own bed of oysters.

Strawn spoke with passion and conviction as she laid out her project, from conception to execution, to the gathered crowd in Shaw Tech that night. In her presentation, she presented the vital role that oysters play in filtering the water in the Chesapeake Bay. Over harvesting, species-specific disease, and pollution have significantly destroyed large portions of the oyster population in recent years, and, by growing her own bed of oysters, Strawn had a first hand look at the effort and care required to raise these vital creatures. She also spoke with oyster growers and experts involved in developing disease resistant oysters, and worked with the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association to promote oyster growing in her community. In the end, Strawn learned that a concerted focus on rebuilding the oyster population will result in significant improvement to the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. She hopes to use her findings to protect oysters in their natural habitat, and to encourage others to join her in cultivating this vital species.

The iQuest program is designed to provide opportunities for students to pursue areas of personal interest through travel grants. iQuest makes funds available for students and faculty to add local, national, and international travel components to traditional courses, new courses, and independent study. Students have applied for and received support to take on subjects as wide ranging as a science/chemistry internship to create a line of makeup, veterinary studies, self-sustaining environmental work, and attending a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural workshop in Chicago.